Articles & Case Studies

A story of two companies’ journeys’ colliding with transformational results

Posted: Wednesday 10th October 2018

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 Portsmouth Water – like its water industry peers – has to deal with customer and regulator challenges and was looking to collect new volumes of wireless data. Meeting with Barter4Things, who had been busy building its wireless network, it was quickly apparent that collaboration between these two ambitious companies would be of mutual benefit.

“Exploiting Low-Power Wide Area Networks (LPWAN) technology together would not just benefit both organisations but perhaps more importantly, benefit their customers and the wider community." Chris Bradley of East Hampshire District Council.

Portsmouth Water (PW) moved first, challenging Barter4Things (B4T) wireless network to perform in conditions that have historically thwarted mobile/GSM and Wi-Fi networks. In a double-whammy, PW deployed traditional pressure and flow loggers against which B4T’s LWPAN data would be judged.

Jamie Jones, PW’s Distribution Manager, was clear in his objectives. “To meet our compliance requirements we measure water pressure manually, so there’s a clear business case to reduce this cost.”

LPWAN immediate cost-benefit is cutting the cost of communications by 80%. Next, replacing monthly manual inspections costing £60 with automated LPWAN technology that costs £10.

With no suitable pressure device on the market, Barter4Things flexed their R&D credentials to develop a proof-of-concept solution. Alex Barter of B4T explains, “It was very much a make-or-break moment for us. We had to overcome some serious low-power challenges that demanded customised hardware and software development.”

In late 2017 the first test concluded that LPWAN could be used for collecting data in remote areas, even under metal instrument covers in wet underground conditions. It also demonstrated that water pressure data can be measured in near real-time using B4T’s LPWAN product. As a result of this successful initial trial, PW has now decided to include LPWAN in their technology strategy and B4T have continued to develop the “Green Dynamite” LPWAN product with long-term collaborators and electronic specialists, Wavetrend. PW commissioned B4T to develop prototypes and data services that could transform how leakage is detected across the whole network.

The “Leaky Intelligence” service launched in October 2018 is described by Alex Barter as a landmark development between like-minded businesses to crack real-world problems. “LPWAN technology has now found a firm foothold in the water industry.” Looking to the future, Alex said, “Bringing Artificial Intelligence into Leaky Intelligence unlocks possibilities of predictive maintenance and self-healing water networks.”

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